Acne is a skin problem that almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Americans spend over $2.2 billion dollars per year on prescription and over the counter treatments for acne (Aad.org, 2014). Research suggests that acne is primarily a problem for people living in westernized societies (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2014). That would suggest that the problem is related to the diet of westerners.
By watching the foods you eat, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your acne breakouts. Here are some of the foods you should avoid and foods should eat more of.
Foods To Avoid
It is important to understand the role of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in creating acne breakouts. IGF-1 has been linked to post adolescent acne in women because of the effect is has on other hormones (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2014). IGF-1 can also stimulate androgens, which in turn can increase the production of sebum. Sebum is an oil produced by the skin to provide lubrication and protection. Too much sebum can cause acne to develop.
Insulin can create acne by stimulating skin cell growth that clogs skin pores. It can also stimulate your oil glands in the same way as IGF-1, causing more acne breakouts.
To prevent acne breakouts you should steer clear of foods that dump insulin and IGF-1 into your body when consumed. That means avoiding refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. Foods to avoid include soda, chocolate, candy, donuts, white bread, white pasta and white rice. Milk also plays a role in the generation of IGF-1 and should be avoided as much as possible (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2014).
You can use the glycemic index figure on processed foods to determine how quickly they will increase your blood sugar level. Foods with a high glycemic index figure should be avoided because they are more likely to create a spike in insulin and IGF-1.
Spicy foods can cause acne breakouts for some people. The spices can raise your body’s temperature, cause inflammation in your skin and make your acne look worse. If you sweat when you eat spicy foods, that can also increase the amount of oil on your skin. That increased oil production can worsen acne breakouts.
Some oily foods can also increase the frequency of acne breakouts, clog pores and create cysts. Avoid foods high in saturated or trans fats like fried potato chips, fried chicken, spring rolls and onion rings.
Foods To Eat
A diet high in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables can lead to fewer acne breakouts. The body takes more time to process complex carbohydrates found in unprocessed foods, so your blood sugar levels are less likely to spike. By avoiding a sudden rise in blood sugar levels, you avoid sudden surges of insulin and IGF-1.
Concentrate on foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Some of the foods with a low GI include: apples, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, wholegrain bread, cashews, peanuts and carrots. These foods have the additional benefit of being rich in important nutrients that your skin needs.
Drinking enough water is crucial when combatting acne. Water can flush out toxins in your body and help clear up your skin. You should drink between two and six glasses of water per day to ensure your body has the water to maintain clear skin.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to reduce the frequency of acne breakouts (Rubin, Kim and Logan, 2008). These fatty acids reduce the amount of leukotriene B4 in your body, a substance which can cause inflammation and increase sebum production.
Omega-3s can be found in most oily fish including salmon, sardines, tuna and pilchards. If you don’t like fish, other sources of omega-3s include flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower (Whfoods.com, 2014).
Read more: Seven Foods To Eat Cold
Research has indicated that microorganisms in your stomach may play a role in determining how much acne you have (Bowe and Logan, 2011). Unhealthy intestinal flora balance may increase inflammation, which leads to acne breakouts.
The research indicates that promoting healthy gut microflora by consuming lactobacillus acidophilus cultures may help reduce acne. Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures can be promoted by eating certain yoghurts or taking a probiotic supplement. There is also some evidence that the topical application of probiotics may help reduce the effects of acne (Aad.org, 2014).
Vegetables also play an important role in clearing up acne. Many vegetables are high in antioxidants, vitamin E and beta-carotenes, which can improve skin health and reduce acne. You should eat vegetables lightly steamed, blanched or raw to maximize their health benefits.
A 2012 study found that an active ingredient in green tea may help reduce acne breakouts (Yoon et al., 2013). Green tea has high levels of an anti-oxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which can reduce inflammation and sebum production. Green tea has several benefits associated with its consumption, so is a great addition to your diet.
By following the simple dietary guidelines above you can reduce the amount of acne you experience and improve your health. In combination with good hygiene, exercise and topical treatments, a healthy diet can completely remove acne from your life!